Piglet Plod

SVN Piglet Plod

So Sunday was the SVN Piglet Plog in the Ashdown Forest. I'd wanted to do a Saxons, Vikings and Normans event for a while simply because they sounded awesome (cake taken seriously) and the medals are quite simply amazing, unfortunately, they are normally based out in the deepest darkest recesses of Kent... however, for the Winnie The Pooh series races, they're much closer to home turf in the AA Milne region of the Ashdown Forest.

Fancy dress is "positively encouraged" so even though it's the 'Piglet Plod'... I really think I'm an "Eeyore" sort of person and so:
Eeyore is sad.

The plan for the day was.. well unlike other events I wasn't really sure of the best tactic for a time limited race, I had a vague idea of trying to get to 6 loops at a comfortable pace, but would be happy to do 5, but that was about it really, and I may have mentioned something along these lines to Cara who may have even believed me.

Ok. Perhaps off the line with some purpose.
Anyway, I had no particular goal in mind but setting away from the start trying to keep a steady pace I felt pretty good and there seemed to be a couple of other fast guys, so thought I'd pick it up a bit and see what happened.
Hmm, interesting.
Let's have some fun.

My initial idea was to do a couple of hot laps, see how it felt and perhaps do a couple more... off the start the legs felt really good and so thought I'd just 'go for it' and see what everyone else did. :) Ok. Pretty much the dumbest race stragegy going, but you only live once and why do so in comfort?

As I was pressing on I took the opportunity to try to decide the best places to push on and where it seemed smart to ease up, since this is a properly undulating route split into two out and back loops balancing the pace out is essential - Loop 1 is properly tough, but shorter at about 2ish miles, loop 2 is a more gently undulating 3ish miles (slightly less properly tough).

Lap1: 40 mins - 5.25 miles

First lap done in 40 mins, get a serious scowl off Cara and asked "what the hell are you doing" but, um now that is a bit too hot a pace really, decide to back off a bit on lap 2.... I smile and promise to slow up a little. I may have shouted something along the lines of "I thought I'd see if anyone else was in the mood to race".
Racing? Who? Me? Innocent smile.

Lap2: 40 mins - 10.5 miles

Back in from lap 2, 40 mins, ok that didn't work out too well, but it definitely felt easier, weird. I think I can do four laps at this speed.
Apparently the face paint is starting to look scary now so decide to wipe that off now, (conclusion for today, face paint is not wise if you're going to be getting hot and sweaty).
Yet another scowl and talking to off Cara who wants to know what exactly my plan is and "so are you trying to win this then" I smile weakly and promise to properly back off now.
Grey dripping sweaty mess. 

Lap 3: 44 mins - 15.75 miles

So try to back off on lap 3, lots of Piglets out on course and having great fun cheering and shouting out to eveyone going around. Back after 44 mins. Ok that's a bit better but I think still just a little bit too quick, normally I can judge and adjust pace well so this is a bit annoying.
Back off again, still thinking four laps should be a good day out, but; well, 5 is a marathon and not that much further. Cara's now letting me know what the time gaps are to second and third place runners, this is a completely new experience for me and I'm actually finding it quite stressful mentally knowing that I'm out at the front and that there's someone behind either dropping back (am I going way too fast) or closing in (gosh am I not going fast enough). Still quite good fun and a novel feeling.

Lap 4: 45 mins - 21 miles

So the plan to ease up a bit more clearly not going to plan yet again. When I started in the morning I reckoned I could hold that pace for 4 laps, but it seems it'd be daft to stop now and not at least go for a marathon distance. I'm pretty certain I can't keep knocking laps out at that pace now though since the legs are really starting to burn. Make a concerted effort to really cool it on the climbs now.

Lap 5: 50 min - 26.25 miles

OK this pace is really starting to hurt now though, but lap 5 is dispatched in 50 mins... and back to HQ, trouble is I'm now back well under the time limit and it seems a shame not going for just one more lap now to get an 'ultra' distance finish recorded rather than "just" a marathon.

Apparently the runner behind me is Lee who was out here yesterday, and won. !  Perhaps he'll get tired and stop after 5 laps. Fingers crossed. :)

I'm not in the mood for keeping the pace that high any more though, and the legs certainly aren't, but, well just one more loop and it'll be good.

I really should have packed some gels though, I hit an energy low at this point and the jelly babies aren't having the same effect as a caffeine gel, also a little disappointed there's no Coke out, that's normally my staple hydration and energy supply at an ultra. Should have come a little more prepared, albeit the plan had been to come for a fun trot dressed as Eeyore, rather than go for a full gas effort.

I check-in with Cara after the 2 mile loop to be told that Lee headed back out after 5 on another lap. Oh well, there's no point stopping now then.

Lap 6: 1h:01m - 31.5 miles

Back after loop 6 in a breadth over an hour and feeling a bit low now. Suddenly I'm feeling really low on energy and the legs are hurting. Again I'm back well under the cut off time, so decide to walk out and see how the legs feel, after taking it really easy on the first loop - quick Lee update before the second loop, he's out again on his 7th loop and looking comfortable. Right. The legs are feeling ok, and I manage to pick it back up to a decent trot and hold a nice steady pace around the second loop.

Lap 7: 1h01m - 36.75 miles

Back in after 7 laps and have done well above my expectations but I've had enough for one day, I'm not in the mood for dragging myself around one extra lap now. Although I do a quick mental inventory and conclude that my legs are feeling better than they did at the start of the lap, I really just don't want to go on any more.

So I decide that'll do for me and ring the "I'm finished" bell. Checking the clock I reckon Lee will be back within the cutoff, and fully expect him to head back out on another loop. He comes back in with about 6 mins to cutoff, and sure enough, grabs a snack and trots back out again. Impressive, especially considering his run the previous day. Nutter.

Finished in 5h:41min, and with one runner out on one more lap, second place overall.
So slightly glum after all that early effort I didn't keep it going to hold on for the outright fastest/longest finish.... but considering that wasn't the plan at all until half way around the first lap, probably unsurprising really.

Time for home, an interesting day out, and in no way what I was expecting to do when I woke up in the morning.

Thoughts

My first 'time limited run', but not sure it's really my thing though. I like having a target or destination to aim for and the ability to tick off aid stations as I go. The idea of just keeping running as far as possible within a fixed time limit all felt very strange and surprisingly tough to maintain motivation. With hindsight even though I started without any plan at all and just winged it, I am actually a bit annoyed I didn't head out for one last lap.

Serious bling


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